- Compact, incredibly easy to use
- Poor night shot mode, short optical zoom, expensive
A fun, compact and easy to use camera but with an expensive price tag
Price$ 2,199.00 (AUD)
Positioned at the high end of Panasonic's new range of video camcorders is the SDR-S100, billed as the the smallest video camera of its type in the world. The SDR-S100 is one of the new wave of video cameras that write data to SD cards, hence its reduced size. However, not only is the camcorder minute, it's attractively designed and easy to use.
The camera is well designed and using the SDR-S100 is a joy. Its lightweight and compact frame makes it easy to hold and a pleasure to carry. Despite the camera's sleek lines, Panasonic has placed the controls in an intuitive fashion making the S100 easy to control. The widescreen 2.8 inch LCD is clear and bright, even in direct sunlight. The SD card slot is conveniently placed behind a flap on the underside of the unit and the front of the unit conceals a convenient pop up flash. Throughout our extensive testing of the camera we could not find one fault with its design and the SDR-S100 is perhaps the most intuitive video camera we have ever used.
This ease of use is carried through to the on-screen menu system. The SDR-S100 offers a fairly basic set of functions and as such, controlling them through the menu is simple. All the essential options such as wind reduction for the microphone, digital zoom and night shot modes are included, though we found night shot to be disappointing. The enhanced colour mode made the picture much brighter at low light levels but the resulting reduction in frame rate made it all but useless. The digital zoom was extremely useful as the SDR-S100 is only equipped with a 10x optical. The camera offers two digital zoom modes, one of which is rated up to 25x zoom and the other up to 700x. The 700x is definitely overkill, with such a distorted image as to make the picture indecipherable, but the 25x zoom mode was much better, and we found it useful.
The video quality, while not up to the standard of the best Mini DV or DVD camcorders, is definitely acceptable. The SDR-S100 ships with a 2GB Panasonic SD card, which is good for still picture standards but less so for video. At the highest quality available on the camera 2GB equates to approximately half an hour of video. The video is encoded in MPEG-2 format and can then be transferred to PC or displayed on a television. Although the camera records in widescreen the videos are actually encoded in standard 4:3 format, which is slightly disappointing. Video footage generally appeared smooth, crisp and bright, but there was definite evidence of compression across large blocks of colour, particular darker shades.
The SDR-S100 also has the advantage of 3.1 megapixel still picture recording. Though the quality lags behind still cameras which generally include 5 megapixel sensors and above, for a video camera it's pretty good. If you wanted to leave behind your separate digital still camera and purely use the SDR-S100, it would cope. With a built in flash, red eye reduction, macro modes and manual focus, the camera is also fairly well equipped.
Overall the SDR-S100 is an impressive package. Its small size combined with decent performance and intuitive controls makes it an ideal purchase for anyone seeking a compact camcorder. However, we feel its high cost is a major factor to consider. At this price we would usually expect a camera with far better quality video recording and a longer optical zoom. This is the trade off that is made for size and if you want the smallest size around then this is a great buy.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 2 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
- 4 Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft's Beam becomes Mixer, adds four person split-screen streaming to battle Twitch
- Microsoft's Story Remix uses machine learning and mixed reality to make your movies awesome
- New IoT malware targets 100,000 IP cameras via known flaw
- Twitter will stream video news from Bloomberg all day, every day
- Facebook launches tool for capturing 360 video inside VR
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Asus ROG Strix Z270F Gaming motherboard review
- The simple RAM buying guide
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTSoftware and Applications Programmer (Java Developer)ACT
- CCMicrosoft (Sharepoint) SpecialistNSW
- FTSenior PHP Developer - SymfonyQLD
- CCDesigner - Salesforce Marketing CloudVIC
- FTData Analyst - SASNSW
- CCBusiness Project Manager-Grant ManagementNSW
- FTTechnology Project ManagerNSW
- CCNetwork Security Engineer - Finance - Contract - SydneyNSW
- FTJunior - Mid Level Technical Customer SupportQLD
- FTProgramme ManagerACT
- FTlevel 2/3 SupportVIC
- FTService Delivery Manager - Telecommunications InfrastructureNSW
- FTDigital Business Analyst/Project Manager | PermanentQLD
- CCSharepoint DeveloperNSW
- FTJunior - Mid Level Technical Customer SupportQLD
- FTIT Support / Desktop SupportSA
- TPLevel 2/3 Technical Service AnalystOther
- FTStorage EngineerSA
- CCData AnalystNSW
- FTApplication System EngineerACT
- CCSQL Analyst DeveloperNSW
- TPProject ManagerVIC
- TPSenior Test AnalystQLD
- CCTechnical Support EngineerNSW